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Full text of "Flora Indica Vol-I"

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INTRODUCTORY   ESSAY.                                      9
them; and as we trust that our work will fall into the hands
of many beginners who are anxious to devote themselves use-
fully to the furtherance of botanical science, but who have not
an opportunity of acquiring in any other way its fundamental
principles, we shall make no excuse for dwelling at some length
on the subject. We are also anxious to refute the too com-
mon opinion (which has been productive of much injury to
the progress of botany) that the study of system presents no
difficulties, and that descriptive botany may be undertaken by
-my one who has acquired a tolerable familiarity with the use
of terms.
There can be no doubt that any observant person may rea-
dily acquire such a knowledge of external characters, as will
iii a short time enable him to refer a considerable number of
plants to their natural orders; though even for this first step
more knowledge of principles is required, than to make an
equal advance in the animal kingdom: but to go beyond this,
—to develop the principles of classification, to refer new and
obscure forms to their proper places in the system, to define
natural groups and even species on philosophical grounds, and
to express their relations by characters of real value and with
a proper degree of precision, demand a, knowledge of morpho-
logy, anatomy, and often of physiology, which must be com-
pletely at command, so as to be brought to bear, when neces-
sary, upon each individual organ of every species in the group
under consideration. To follow the laws that regulate the
growth of all parts of the plant, especially the structure of
stems, the functions of leaves, the development and arrest of
floral organs, and the form, position, and minute anatomy of
the pollen and ovule, and to trace the whole progress of the
ovule and its integuments to their perfect state in the seed,
ought all to be familiar processes to the systematic botanist
who proceeds upon safe principles; but no progress can be
made by him who confines his attention chiefly to the modifi-
cations of these organs in individual plants or natural orders.
To many all this may appear self-evident, and we should